I've got 3 PTs who are all pretty great. Kayley evaluated me when I first started. Loved her from the beginning because she knew how important it was to me to keep moving. "Do all you want as long as there is no pain."
I've only seen Toby once but he is a runner. He was amazed that I ran Boston and said if he was me he'd never remove the Boston shirt. It's kind of funny but I'm really weird about how my clothing fits and feels. I like looking at that shirt but not wearing it.
Finally there is Josh. I've been to him the most. Josh loves all sports but is clearly not a runner. Here's our conversation yesterday:
J: How do you feel?
Me: I feel like I worked it. The hammy is tired.
J: What did you do?
Me: I ran 4 miles and I tried to do some speed. I wanted 5 1/4s but stopped at 3 because I knew it was enough.
J: 🤔 So wait back up. Did run road or trail?
Me: Road 2, trail 2.
Me: An out and back. 1 road, 2 trail/dirt, 1 road.
J: Got it. So you ran 3/4 fast and it felt worked?
me: No, I ran 3 x 1/4s.
Josh: Right, 3/4s
Me: 😠 Gah! No. I ran three .25 miles with rests in between.
Josh: GOT IT! That's perfect! You ran and pushed it with rest breaks in between and now it's fatigued but not injured.
And this is why I love Josh! He's letting me get back to running, testing it a bit and reigning me in when I need it. BTW It's a no to running the bridges this week....I asked and I'm 99% sure I'm going to listen. 🙄
Josh is the master explainer. Loves to talk. When I first started PT I was very frustrated because I tore my hamstring at the sitbone but whenever I would run it would hurt in the belly of the hammy and also down on the outside of my knee. "Why?" I asked<== truthfully it was probably more a whine or a wail but I'm telling the story here. He said to think of my hamstring like a rubber band. When I tripped the rubber band stretched as far as it could go and then gave way at the top. Apparently when it stretched out I put micro tears in the whole lateral side of my left hamstring. Toby tells me this makes me unique because most people tear or strain their medial hamstring. I always knew I was special!! 😏
I ran 14.5 outside last week and ellipticaled 2 miles.
This week I've run 10.5 miles so far and planning on another 3 + 6 this weekend.
My left leg is still weak compared to my right but Josh says we'll get it back to full strength. Guess what? I'm starting to believe him!
Here's my mini training plan for Rehoboth.
Because it never feels good to give in to the excuses.
Running an hour late means more traffic. Lots. And the drivers don’t expect to see a runner, or anyone on the sidewalk that they should try not to run over. Stupid driver.
Three deer crossing Midway. I was really sure the third one was going to be hit by the 411 Island Transit. Flashed my flashlight at him. Probably wasn’t necessary. He probably saw the deer. Probably thought I was trying to flag him down instead of waiting for at the bus stop. Stupid runner. The deer, all three of them crossed safely.
Got caught at the signal on Midway and Whidbey. I hate that signal. It takes forever and with all the traffic I couldn’t just ignore it. Not one to run in place, at least I got to stretch out my calves during the first mile.
Did I mention I ran the uphill direction? Something about mixing up the direction so that the bank of the road isn't always on one side. Yeah. Had to take a walk break the block before Regatta and a few more the rest of the way home.
The people coming out of Navy housing are generally aware of runners no matter what ‘o-dark-thirty time you are running.
A buck crossing the road at the church on Regatta.
The Navy parents coming out of the CDC (Child development center) are in a hurry. Ninja runner with reflective blinky lights glares at mini-van mom, but remains invisible to Ms. Inahurry Lateformashift.
It was light enough when I reached the dark stretch of Regatta for me to leave the flashlight off.
Time? Slower than Tuesday. I honestly haven't looked.
With permission I announce some amazing wonderful and utterly joyous news: My BA runner sister GiniaQ had her first baby yesterday!!!! I’m sad that she’s in Kansas and I am on Whidbey but she has a super awesome hubby and baby girl is absolutely perfect. I’ve not said anything until now because I wasn’t sure if my sis would be hopping back into the loop. She ran through all her pregnancy. I wasn’t a runner before my children, but my sister went into this pregnancy marathon-fit. No kidding, she ran a marathon at the beginning of her pregnancy and seriously went for a run just this past weekend at 39 weeks. Yeah. She’s kinda my hero.
So picture this - you walk in to your sports chiro's office for your weekly torture session appointment and find him sitting at his desk, feet propped up on his table, sipping a Red Bull and grinning at you like The Cheshire Cat...
I kid you not. Dude looked positively giddy. Like - mad scientist giddy. I sorta, kinda wanted to turn right around and run out, but I didn't. I mean - duh - I can't run! But this guy is pulling out all the stops to get me back to it, so I took a deep breath, repeated my 'safe word' in my head and soldiered on in...
We went through the normal rundown of how things have felt since last week's session (he's still holding his sacred Red Bull can, feet still propped up on the table) I told him I feel bad because I still don't feel like anything has changed all that much. My feet are certainly not as achy as they have been throughout this entire ordeal, but then again, they're haven't gotten any worse since I started coming to him. He said that that was totally okay - I may not feel like anything is getting better right now, but (again with that mischievous grin) he can. He put the can down, popped out of his chair with a clap of his hands and wiggled his instruments of torture fingers in the air as if he were preparing to play the piano. As he was starting the manipulation on my right foot, he said things are definitely moving around easier and he can feel that the 5th metatarsal bone of my right foot isn't at such a crooked angle any more. I tried to utter something like "yay!", but truth be told, I was gripping the table for dear life. If I had opened my mouth to say anything, I would have sounded like Steve Carell's character in The 40 Year-Old Virgin during the scene where he's getting his chest waxed.
So I just tried to keep doing my deep breathing as he dug his thumbs into those little bits of fascia in between the bones in my forefoot. I relaxed a bit as he started moving my toes around and cracking them. The *pop* of each release seemed to tickle him to no end. The left foot manipulation didn't hurt as much, so I could at least hold up my end of conversation and I even managed to ask a few questions about additional things I can do at home. And if it was normal that I had been having some lower back twinges here and there - especially on my right side.
Someday I will learn to stop asking questions. For the next 5 or so minutes, I was flipped onto my right side, those damn thumbs were digging into the side of my hip while my leg was simultaneously bent and flexed this way, that way, down, around........... FLIP to the other side, repeat. But that wasn't the end. Oooohhhh no. THEN came the back and neck cracking. I can't even... The flashbacks alone are making my *shudder*.
I fully expected to crumble on to the floor in a heap when I put my feet on the ground. But surprisingly enough, when I stood up, I felt like I was 6 feet tall and light as a feather. Go figure.
The lower right quadrant of my back still doesn't feel quite right today, but it doesn't feel any worse either. And today is the third day in a row that I haven't felt like I needed to strap my feet with the Kinesio Tape, so I guess that crazy f*cker is right...
For now, I'm scheduled in the books to continue these weekly 'happy hours' until Thanksgiving, but still taking it week by week to see how things continue to progress. Once he feels the metatarsal bones are back where they should be, he's thinking of fitting me for inserts as a maintenance tool to keep everything where it should be when I start running again. I smile every time I replay that sentence in my head. WHEN I START RUNNING AGAIN!!! I reminded him that I'll be turning the big five-oh next month and asked if he could fit me for anything else to keep other areas 'where they should be' as well... He gave me a big bear hug and told me to go home and enjoy a glass of wine.
So I went home, I popped a Tom Petty CD in to muh stereo (dudes - I don't know about y'all, but am still grieving his loss - along with Bowie and Prince, Tom Petty has been a major contributor to the soundtrack of my life... *sniff* *sniff*), propped up my feet on the coffee table, and sipped my glass of wine with my very own Cheshire Cat grin on my face...
This is my first post on the new Loop! Woot woot! While I'm sad the other one left, it was nice to see so many people sharing their appreciation of each other. Love you all!
The last marathon I ran was 2016 Grandma's Marathon, where it was black flagged, hot AF, and I got the worst sunburn of my life and had to put medical grade burn cream on it. I had signed up for Kalamazoo Marathon in May, but I didn't go. I hadn't trained in the least and I just didn't want to. I was sick of traveling here, there, and everywhere. I can't wrap my mind around running more than 13 miles. So, I took the summer to try to find my love of running again.
Turns out, I just needed a shake-up. In April, I won a 10 week bootcamp at a kickboxing place that started in July. I didn't really like it for the first 6 weeks, but since then, I've really liked the way it's challenged me to use muscles I don't use (hello, upper body!). Now that I feel like I'm "in shape" and will have something to keep me going in the winter, I signed up for the Flying Pig Marathon.
Yes, it's hilly, but my only real goal is to get under 6 hours. They have a generous 7 hour cutoff, and looking at the results, some people even finished in 8+ hours. I will just need to work to take down some of my long run mental roadblocks. Cool thing is there's a finisher's jacket this year because it's their 20 year anniversary. Thanks to the Loopsters who gave their input on the race.
Best thing about Cincinnati? Holtman's Donuts.
It feels good to have a goal again, even if it is nearly 7 months away.
Speaking of donuts, I'm doing a donut 5k on Saturday! RR and pictures to come.
At mile 15 I started crying at the turn from Damen onto Jackson having just done some runners math (complete with padding numbers for marathon addled inaccuracies) because I knew I was going to finish. I could walk the rest of the race and I was going to finish under the cutoff time.
I definitely didn't do that math because that was the plan, but starting about mile 18 it wound up being a good thing that I had that extra time, because it would turn out I'd need almost all of it.
But, as usual, I find I'm getting ahead of myself. I should really start at the beginning. The beginning, in this case, includes a warning that is similar to the warning I included in my first half marathon bloop almost 4.5 years ago: brace yourself, this is going to be long. After all, I only get to do my first marathon race report once, and well, I don't want to miss anything. In fact, if you're the type that likes some tea, coffee, wine or beer with your reading, now is an ideal time to grab your beverage of choice. Don't worry, this report definitely isn't going anywhere.
As many loopsters will remember, I didn't think I'd gotten into Chicago and I was pretty bummed about it. I didn't say a lot outside of the Loop, because I didn't want to rain on the parade of the dozens of friends who had gotten into the race. I had resigned myself to finding a different marathon to train for and being the best Chicago hostess and cheer squad you've ever seen when I got this email on March 14th:
Once I got over the initial shock (and combed through my spam to find the original acceptance email) I did what all good runners do and began totally and completely obsessing over my training and race schedule between March and October. Seven months, after all, is more than enough time to prepare, and while I wasn't entirely sure what I needed to get out of this race yet, I knew I needed to finish it, and I wanted to do whatever I could to make sure that happened.
You see, the marathon and I have had a three year long flirtationship. I'd signed up for two other fulls, one of which resulted in me dropping to the half marathon when I couldn't get my mileage up to where I wanted it to be six weeks before the race and another I wound up with a DNS after moving and changing jobs seriously impacted my training schedule. In fact, three years ago for Christmas my best friend got me a necklace that says "I Run 26.2" that's been sitting in my jewelry box at home through three apartments and two moves...and...well, more about that necklace in a bit.
So, when I got my surprise participant update I printed off a map of the course and hung it at work. As you can see below, I wrote "Be Uncomfortable" on top of it. If you follow my non-running obsessions, you know that I love the Chicago Cubs. "Be Uncomfortable" was one of Joe Maddon's catchphrases as the Cub's entered the 2017 season, I thought it seemed pretty appropriate for marathon training through the summer, so I embraced it as my own little motto as training began.
And, really, training was going pretty well into July. I wasn't getting much faster, but I wasn't slowing down. I might miss a handful of mid-week runs here and there, but my long mileage was on point. I wasn't missing races. I felt like I was going to be okay...until I just didn't feel like I was going to be okay. I've shared parts of this on the Loop before, so I don't think it's going to come as a huge surprise to anyone, but I've spent most of my adult life dealing with depression and anxiety to various degrees. I'm pretty remarkably good at managing them 80% of the time, and the other 20% of the time I probably just come off as having a bad day, or a weird stint of running late all the time.
For a variety of reasons my anxiety was pretty much on tilt this entire training cycle, and while running is usually a tool that helps me manage that, this summer it just wasn't happening that way. It was taking most of my energy to manage work and relationships, leaving very little left to devote to training. And I'd still get out and run, or run/walk, or workout, or something, but I'd be lying if I said those runs felt good. They felt like the absolute bare minimum that I needed to do to be able to run this race and the whole summer felt like I was fighting my mind to follow through on a goal I set for myself. An eminently, achievable, personal goal - if I could just get the chemicals in my brain to cooperate.
In the month leading up to the race it sort of felt like everything that could go wrong would and did go wrong. My 18 miler in Spokane was run in the smoky haze of wildfires, but was a relief since it gave me a break from political arguments with my family. My 20 miler was hot and I felt about as crappy as a non-sick person can feel while I did it. I left my watch at home for both rather than look at the times. Two of my three legs at Reach the Beach were a complete and utter suffer fest. I ran them at 1pm on terrain that is hillier than anything the city of Chicago has to offer in full on 80 degree heat. I spent most of September bracing myself for the very real possibility that even though I'd start this marathon I might record my first ever DNF.
So I was a little shocked when the week of the race I felt pretty eerily calm about my prospects of at least finishing. I thought about how hard running had been over the summer and how it had happened anyway. I decided to just let any time goals and fitness ideals I had go out the window, and truly just focus on finishing. I thought about how much I wanted to run through my new city and see neighborhoods I never visited. I remembered that I've overcome a lot in my life, and running my first marathon at a time that was less than ideal was just going to be another one of those things.
So I tried to ignore the fact that the temperatures were creeping towards 80 on the day of the race. I tried to ignore the fact that I hate running in the heat. I tried to ignore the fact that I was sick with a pretty bad head/chest cold the weekend before, that didn't really start to dissipate until Tuesday. I tried to stop apologizing to everyone who asked about tracking me that I was going to be really, really slow.
I decided to just "Be Uncomfortable" for a day and see where it took me.
On Friday morning I came into work for a half day and had a "Good Luck with your Marathon" card from my coworkers. They included a protein bar, because they are awesome. It was the first of approximately 42 times I would tear up over the course of the weekend.
On Friday afternoon I went to the expo with a friend of mine who was running his first Chicago, he wound up being the perfect person to hang around the expo with and we truly had a blast. Our plan was to give ourselves a couple of hours to get our bibs, shirts, posters and any gear, and then get to the Goose Island Tap Room right as they opened so we could score their free insulated pint glasses.
I wound up getting teary eyed approximately half a dozen times just at the Expo.
Seeing the Packet Pick Up sign made me teary, showing them my ID made me teary, getting my packet made me teary, getting my poster made me teary, successfully getting our Goose Island glasses made me teary. I've included some of the highlights below, but I should warn you, there are a lot more tears up ahead.
Really cool Expo version of the course.
I was really only going to get a Finisher's jacket, and then the North Face decided to put the marathon information on the Wrigley Field marquee. Just take my money.
Goose Island, always on point.
Saturday I met up with some running friends for lunch and then went to watch the Cubs game at a local pub. The Cubs didn't win, but there was this wicked cool rainbow over Wrigley Field and it felt like it just had to be good luck.
I had my race gear laid out and ready to go for early Sunday morning
I woke up Sunday and everything went according to plan. I got ready, got my coffee, got on the train and headed to the start. I'm so glad I was able to run my first marathon in my own city, sleeping in my own bed, going to my normal Starbucks...everything about that familiarity was amazing and awesome on race day.
I took a picture through tears on the train on the way to the race:
And as I walked past my office to the start, I took a picture of the Art Institute, which I see five times a week, but it was so much cooler to see it swarmed by hundreds of runners who were all about to run the same course I was about to run.
And one more shot of the city from the bridge on my lunch run route, if it wasn't so hot, it would really be a perfect day
In no time, it felt like we were off and running. The first eight miles were sort of a blur, and went exactly the way I wanted them to go. I kept it slow, I enjoyed the crowd. I saw two friends cheering at different points along the way and felt so incredibly loved. I saw areas of the city I run through all the time, but this time they were filled with cheering people.
I'm pretty sure my favorite scene from this stretch was running past the retirement home on LaSalle, waving at all the retirees who made signs for us. They were awesome.
Miles 8-11 run through my neighborhood and back to the city. A friend of mine ran down Halsted to give me a hug at mile 10. I didn't even know he was on the course cheering, it was just lucky that he saw me and I saw him. It was brilliant.
Mile 14 runs past my old office. A space that I tried so hard to make work, and just didn't work. A place that holds a lot of conflicting feelings for me. I ran defiantly past my past and felt reinvigorated as we headed west.
At mile 15 I knew I was going to finish. Even if I walked. I broke into tears briefly.
At mile 18 as we ran on the South Side, the crowds thinned, the sun was in my face, and there was no shade. And I entered a world of pain. I decided to walk the sun and run the shade. There was a lot of walking through this area, as there was not a lot of shade.
In Pilsen I ran through Hispanic neighborhoods full of people who look like my family. I screamed "Si Se Puede" back at a few dozen people and got energy from the crowd handing out horchata (I didn't take any horchata). I got a lot of energy in Pilsen.
In Chinatown (and yes, I know that I stopped being specific with miles...I'm sorry about that, everything after mile 18 was a blur until mile 24, at least as far as specific miles go) I saw my friend Carol and am a little embarrassed that I was sort of cranky from the heat. She called out that I looked awesome, and I'm pretty sure I responded with "it's really f****n hot." I apologized later, but she's done this before too, and totally understood. Carol is awesome.
As we turned back towards the city the shade picked up again and I started running again. A phenomenal black woman was preaching in the street that we would all finish and not to listen to any of the doubt in our heads. I yelled "Amen!" as I passed her and thought I'd float to the finish.
At mile 24 I lost my left pinky toenail.
It was excruciating. I almost passed out, and began limping. But I had enough time relative to the cutoff, and I wasn't about to give up. So I limped towards the finish.
At mile 25 a blister on the bottom of my right foot burst.
And I actually looked up at the sky and said "Are you serious?"
But I kept limping towards the finish. There was no way I was giving up, 1.2 miles from the finish. It was sort of funny, the crowds around me were yelling and cheering for me, telling me how close I was, and all I could think was "people, if you had any idea what was going on with my feet, you'd understand."
With 300 meters to go, I ran into Jose.
Jose was struggling a bit at the end too, and he looked at me and said "I think we should run in together." I looked at Jose like he was crazy and thought about telling him about my feet...and then I thought, what could it possibly hurt to try? It's 200 meters.
We turned the corner off Roosevelt and ran across the finish together.
I cried for the last time, stopped my Garmin at 27.48 miles and 6:24 and hugged Jose. It was nowhere near the time I'd ever hoped for. It was nowhere near the race I thought I'd run. It was hard and brutal and hot and perfect.
Shortly after I got my beer and my medal I took this photo
After a shower and some first aid on my feet (which still aren't 100%) a friend and I went to get pizza. I may have to run another marathon just to experience how amazing food tastes after 26.2 miles. No bite of food has ever been as good as this bite of food.
In fact, the only thing that might be better than that bite of pizza is finally being able to wear this incredible gift from my best friend.
I run 26.2.
The marathon is definitively the hardest thing I've ever done on purpose. And I'll probably do it again.
I mentioned that my DH challenged me to a one-mile race at the high school track this past Saturday. I was not excited. The track and athletic fields are locked up, and although it is a simple matter to go around the 20 foot chain link fence, it feels a lot like trespassing. And that is to go run on a track, which takes all the joy out of running (at least for me), not much better than a treadmill. Then there is the whole flashback to high school gym classes, where I was anything but athletic. And for what? To run a mile? One mile? Let's be clear, the first mile of almost any run sucks. And what is the point of getting all sweaty if you are only running a single mile? I have never, ever been a sprinter. Mile repeats are the worst. And then there is the whole racing thing, from which I have taken a break. I have not done any speedwork in at least a year, in hopes of avoiding injury (there has been a constant parade of injuries the past two years) and finding more joy in running. And racing the DH? Even if I win, I lose. So Saturday morning came and I tried to be a good sport, but if sulking were an Olympic event, I would have won a medal, for sure.
I understood what the DH wanted. He felt the track would be kinder to his crushed meniscus. The most he could hope to run was a single mile. And somehow, he thought it would be fun (FUN????) to race me.
So Saturday morning, I put on my best racing gear, and we drove to the high school. We walked around the chain link fence, across the athletic fields, and as we approached the track, we saw that it was set up for a track meet, with hurdles and registration, and adorable high school runners warming up. We drove home, not sweaty. DH was disappointed.
It was probably wrong how great I felt.
Note: All 5 of the other Loopsters who participated in the Wineglass weekend are stellar individuals, outstanding people. Words don’t do justice, so I have copped out and not written about them. It’s too difficult to find the right sentiments. To be honest, it’s hard enough to write about this race. My feelings are complicated. Despite the successes across the board that the weekend brought to us, I feel we’re all poised for even better things. May the running gods smile on us, every one.
October 1, 8:15 AM: The gun fired and we were off.
September 7, 6:15 AM: I panted, bent over with my hands on my knees at the end of a 10 mile tempo. It was a little over 3 weeks until race day and I had been feeling bullet proof. Not a disappointment to be found for weeks and weeks of the training cycle. Until today. Hansons had called for 10 miles at marathon pace, but I had been sluggish from the start. I had pushed the pace to where I wanted it to be, but at more effort than expected. And then I felt them coming on slowly: abdominal cramps. The hell? When’s the last time that happened, a decade ago? More? They grew sharper and more insistent. Finally I had to stop, gulp air, wait for them to subside. I started up again and tried to find pace but there they were, lurking, aching, sharpening. I stopped again. In the end I managed 6:40 for 10 miles, not counting the stops. Just eking out goal pace on a perfect running morning. Except for those stops. “Oh well,” I wrote in my journal later. “They can’t all be great.”
October 1, 8:20 AM: We were cruising now, headed down the first gentle incline. Fiddling with my sleeve to check my Garmin (not used to long-sleeved mornings, I had failed to tuck it under my watch) I hit a button and the display flipped over to the time. As in, 8:20 AM, not race time. I panicked a little and began stabbing at buttons, including briefly stopping my chronograph before getting things back the way they needed to be. “Calm down,” I told myself. At the first mile marker I manually hit the lap button. “OK. Relax. You got this.”
“Maybe,” said a quieter voice in the back of my mind.
September 7, 9:00 PM: During work, throughout the day after that bad tempo, my body had gone through cycles of too cold and too warm. I put on a fleece and then took it off again. I realized during a meeting that I was feeling more than a usual Thursday morning listlessness. I was able to forget about it for a while, occasionally feeling worse, sometimes not too far from OK. But as the day wound down I was definitely perking up. No doubt I had been fighting something off, explaining the lackluster training morning. My confidence was coming back and I wrote a status on Loopville on being so BA my body had killed off the flu in a day. It was tongue in cheek; I knew that wasn’t exactly true, but was reassured to be returning to myself.
October 1, 8:35 AM: I was moving along at just under 6:40 pace. That was fine, but I wasn’t sure it was as easy as it should be. A few weeks earlier I had expected to be about the same pace, but sailing, wondering, “Am I running too slowly?” Instead I was wondering, “Am I running too fast?” I had seen my family cheering around the 2 mile mark and their energy and support had buoyed me, but now the doubts were creeping back in. A pack of six had formed a few yards ahead. I attempted a gradual acceleration, to pull them in and draft. Slowly, slowly I increased my effort. The experience of thousands of miles of training and a dozen or so marathons whispered in my ear: “Too much.” I fell back and set my own pace.
September 10, 9:00 AM: I stopped my watch at the 20 mile mark, wrapping up my longest training run with a 6:59 pace. Success! Despite my confidence of a few days before, there was no doubt that I hadn’t been quite right since then, more tired than I should have been as each long day came to a close. At least it didn’t seem to affect my early morning running. And this run clearly showed I was past all that. I was over this minor cold and good as new, getting ready to sail through Hansons’ gradual taper and look for a big PR on race day.
October 1, 8:40 AM: What was with the fog? It was going to burn off, right? And was that a breeze in front? There wasn’t supposed to be any head wind. I must have been imagining it. Still, I couldn’t get comfortable, feeling more chilly than expected. If only the damn fog would burn off. I thought back to the ice on the car windshields as I’d left the motel that morning. That was a first for the fall. Just like the icy windshields that morning at Mohawk Hudson a few years back. That had turned into a disappointing day. “Be quiet,” I told myself. “You’d over-trained three weeks out. That’s the last thing to worry about today.” I watched the group of six pull ever so slowly away and then gradually became aware of footsteps approaching from the rear.
September 13, 9:00 PM: After a successful 4 x 1.5 mile workout the day before, “Not quite right” had turned into “Pretty well wrong.” I hadn’t checked, but there wasn’t much doubt I was running a fever. My head was clogged. I was coughing up phlegm. My muscles were letting me know that some crap was going on that wasn’t OK. A rest day hadn’t seemed to help much, but I didn’t want to mess up the plan. Another 10-mile tempo was waiting in the morning. Stick to the plan. Everything depends on the plan. “I’ll get a good night’s sleep and see what happens.”
October 1, 8:45 AM: The footsteps slowly pulled up to me and then stayed there, just behind. It sounded like two of them but I couldn’t be sure. I didn’t much care if they passed. As much time as I’d spent before the race, reviewing previous years’ results, wondering if an award was possible, I didn’t care at all about that now. Just go around me. Run your race and let me run mine. Let me focus here.
I concentrated on my pace of just-about-comfortable and tried to ignore them. They stayed right there. It may have been a mile, a few minutes, a few steps. Then one came up just off my right shoulder, a foot away, and parked there. I could see him in my peripheral vision. I couldn’t stay quiet. “You can pass if you want,” I grunted. He fell back. A minute later he said, “You can take a turn in back if you want.” Was that reasonable? Expecting me to slow to take my chance to tuck in behind? I wasn’t sure, but decided to dislike him.
September 14, 5:30 AM: My 10 mile tempo became a 1 mile tempo. The pace was fine for that mile, but after that I was done. I took a few more steps at tempo and then slowed to easy pace. I cruised, questioning whether I had given up too easily. Then a growing weariness assured me that there was no way I could have maintained the pace. For the last few miles I began wondering if I should have gone straight home after abandoning the tempo. At what point does the plan become an inflexible command to do the wrong thing? But the race was just over 2 weeks out. I felt I had to keep walking a fine line. A PR goal left about no room for error. The next few runs were supposed to be all at an easy pace. Maybe I could slip a few more tempo miles in there. No harm in that, right?
October 1, 9:00 AM: The footsteps stayed behind me. I ran my pace, generally just under 6:40, sometimes creeping above. Eventually the guy who had run up on my shoulder came back. I could see now the white hair, probably prematurely white as I stole a glance at his face, but surely another Master. “Are you from Cleveland?” he said. “Because you’re not letting anyone pass.” What’s that? Oh, a baseball reference. The way he said it, with a smile and followed by some words about working together, convinced me he was trying for a friendly reset. I apologized and explained I’m used to running alone. It sounded lame but was true. I’ve tried pace groups. I don’t like them. Too many constant, almost imperceptible adjustments to everyone else’s running. Plus, I’m an introvert, a strong one. It doesn’t mean I don’t like people. It doesn’t mean I can’t interact, be friendly, shoot the breeze. But each of those interactions, especially when they become a conversation, is a tiny withdrawal from my energy stores. And I was thinking that by the last few miles of the race I would have approximately zero energy to spare.
September 17, 8:30 AM: I wrapped up an 8 mile run including 3 at tempo pace. Ten the previous day had included 4 tempo miles. My 10 mile tempo for the week had turned into 8 tempo miles over three days, each time shutting it down when I began to feel done. I was walking, well, running a fine line. Was it too much? Was it enough? How could I possibly do 26.2 at this pace in two weeks? Calm down. This isn’t mono or bronchitis or strep. It’s a cold. An annoying, lingering cold. There’s no way it can last for two more weeks. No way.
October 1, 9:45 AM: The miles pounded by. Our group of three had grown to five as we neared and then passed the half mark right around 1:27:30. The first new runner to join us and take the lead was a lanky redhead in a cap. Looking smooth. Looking young. A shorter, dark haired guy joined him at the front of our group, letting Red take the lead. The other three of us stayed just back, and I was now convinced we were all Masters, possibly all in our late 40s. I found myself now naturally exchanging positions with the older guys. Sometimes near the front, sometimes just behind. No longer from Cleveland, I guess. The pace wasn’t hard yet but wasn’t easy. Sometimes it felt like I was just where I was supposed to be; sometimes like I was about to drop off the back. Focus. If the young guys are stronger, let them go. Just run somewhere around 6:40. Not quite there anymore but close. Stay with the middle-aged guys if you can. Almost surely headed for another positive split, don’t let those guys go. Smart? No idea. Hold on.
September 19, 6:00 AM: Yes! 6 x 1 mile ranging from 5:57 to 6:05. The intervals weren’t easy, but not bone-crunching either. I was feeling better, finally putting this stubborn illness behind me. No doubt my immune system had figured out how to beat it. Beautiful, beautiful T cells. What a miracle, the human body. A solid 10-mile tempo waited in two days, then I would be sailing into race day.
October 1, 9:55 AM: I knew it was coming, a small hill right around mile 15, and there it was. I had felt like I was hanging on during the previous mile, but as the incline began I naturally moved past my Masters companions. It wasn’t much of a hill, really. On my home paths in Hershey it’s impossible to avoid hills like this. None is brutal, but they come one after another. One after another. I was in familiar territory. I kept my head down, smoothed out my stride, pumped my arms, and heard the two behind me fall back. As we neared the top, they may have been 20 feet back. Not a lot, but a gap. Then we were cresting the hill and descending, and here came their footsteps, catching up again, until at the base of the other side they were right behind me. Had they come back too fast? Maybe. Because when the road leveled out I noticed them falling behind again, very gradually. The two younger guys were still in front, but the sound of my other friends slowly began to fade behind me, and this time I didn’t hear them coming back.
September 19, 6:00 PM: Is the fever really coming back? How can I be getting sick again? This is a cold. It’s not supposed to relapse. I Googled it. Once I beat it, it’s beaten. Race day is just around the corner. Rest day planned tomorrow. Maybe this time I’ll take another rest day after that. Yes, another rest day after that.
October 1, 10:30 AM: “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I heard my daughter’s excited screech a few seconds before I saw my family, waiting by the side of the road, close to the 20 mile mark. Immediately I began to peel off my top shirt and gloves. I surprised myself with how long I’d held onto them, but the fog had finally burned off and it was time. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that we had been running into a breeze much of the way. Was it in my head? Probably. No matter now. Time to shed that layer and bear down. “Love you!” I shouted as I dropped the clothes at my wife’s feet. “Love you!” “Love you!” “Love you!” I called back one more time over my shoulder. OK, this is it. The race starts for real now.
September 22, 6:30 PM: I had managed seven tempo miles that morning before cutting it off. Only nine days left to the race now. That bothered me, because the rule of thumb is that it takes 10 days to gain fitness from a workout, but there was no way I was ready to run yesterday.
And quite possibly, there was no way I should have run that morning. “Go to urgent care,” Kim said, taking a look at me when I’d arrived home from work. Finally, I had. The nurse was now reading the thermometer and giving me the news: 102. The doctor looked down my throat. Into my nose and ears. Listened to my chest. “I don’t hear any congestion in your lungs,” she told me. I knew that. It was a blessing and why I had been able to train some during the ups and downs of this illness. Or maybe that was a curse. “I’m concerned that you have a fever 15 days after getting sick.” Yeah. Me too. Here I sat, just over a week out, feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. Was there any way I could get well in time?
“I’m going to prescribe you a Z-Pak. It’s well tolerated and the cycle is only 5 days so you’ll have a few days left before your race. And it kills a lot of bugs.”
“Except viruses,” I said.
“Except viruses,” she agreed.
October 1, 10:45 AM: Two had fallen back, and they hadn’t come back. Two in front had gone ahead. I was on my own now, occasionally reeling in a fading runner, occasionally being passed by a runner who had paced more wisely than myself. “Good job,” I would pant each time they passed, and then congratulate myself for that. It was a good sign. If they had passed and all I could offer was silent hate, that would mean I was close to collapse.
The course was now winding through a city park. Tiny ups and downs that felt like mountains. Plenty of race volunteers to point the way, and also families enjoying the warming morning. I could stop for a rest with them. Give my tightening hamstrings a break. It would feel so nice. So nice. Snap out of it. Check the watch. Do the runner math. Let’s see. About 2 minutes ahead of PR pace, I think, and not getting any faster. Time to bear down.
September 24, 7:00 AM: An easy 8.5 with Mr. Andante, in town with the family to visit the park. After another rest day I was now a week out from the race. Was I well? No. But maybe scraping myself off the pavement. That truck that had hit me hadn’t quite finished the job. It was a welcome interlude, running at an easy pace, chatting with a Loopster. But not feeling right. Better, maybe, but not right. I’d felt better before. I didn’t trust it. A week away. I couldn’t even remember feeling normal now. Only a week to go. It didn’t seem sensible to hope.
October 1, 11:00 AM: It felt like my feet were barely lifting from the ground. My hamstrings were very close to done and wouldn’t allow any extra lift. But the pace was OK. I was keeping it under 7:00. Would I ever negative split a marathon? Maybe, but not today. A few more runners passed me, and I passed a few. Everything else was a blur. How many minutes to go? Where would I be if I were in training Hershey, headed home? Oh, that’s an uphill. Don’t think about that. What’s my mantra? Mantras are stupid. Just run. It’s impossible, but never mind. Just run.
September 27, 6:30 AM: Two straight days of easy runs at a good pace, not pushing. Maybe the antibiotics were taking hold. Maybe my body was just finally winning, for real this time. Either way, I was feeling just a little better each day. Maybe this would happen after all.
October 1, 11:05 AM: There was the bridge, somewhere just past 25 miles. I remembered it from my first time running this race, a dozen years and a lifetime ago. That was a warm day, pushing past 70 degrees. An unexpectedly fast pace turned into cramps and walk breaks, but I still eked out a 3:10 and 3rd place male, 35-39. The picture, taken on this very bridge, sits on a shelf in my dining room. Twelve years later a photographer was there again in the same place, but now a new PR was coming into focus. A PR that would have been unimaginable to my younger self. Pain was turning toward confidence. No walking this time. I put down my head and did my best to power up the bridge.
September 30, 7:00 AM: That was it, the training done. The last 3 mile easy run finished. Race tomorrow and everything felt OK. Miraculous. I did the math. I’d missed about 30 miles in the last three weeks of training. The last three tempo runs were misses. And though I felt fine in the moment, I had no idea how I’d feel after 10 miles at marathon pace, or 20, or 25.
If another Loopster was looking for reassurance in the same situation I would have written about the potential benefits of an increased taper, about all the hard work accomplished, about the strength and stamina in my legs. It was all going to be fine. Have confidence, you got this.
Looking at my own situation, I saw nothing but question marks.
October 1, 11:10 AM: But there I was making the last left turn that brought the finish line banner into view. A few blocks away but inevitable now. I charged. Block by block became foot by foot. I reeled in one last runner and passed him. The crowd packed in tighter and tighter, the cheers louder and louder. Another runner sprinted past me in the last few meters like I wasn’t even moving, and then the announcer was calling his name, and then he was calling mine.
I crossed at 2:56 and change. Official results put it at 2:56:14, a full two minutes under my previous PR, and first of the 45-49 year old men. I stumbled through the chute, got my medal, my water. A volunteer wrapped me in Mylar. I heard familiar voices and there was my family calling to me. I found a gap in the barriers and went to them. I gave them sweaty hugs, then more hugs, thanks, and love. They shepherded me to the massage tent, then to pick up my drop bag. Shivering, I pulled on a layer, then as Kim went to get the kids something to eat, I went back to look for Loopsters. They came in one by one and you know the stories: PR, PR, PR, PR, PR. Read their bloops. Read them again. They are Rock Stars.
Wineglass had become magic.
October 1, just before 8:15 AM: “I hate marathons,” I said to Peg as we left our cozy tent and took the final few steps toward the start in the chilly fog. We’ve all had that feeling at the start of a race when the pressure and the uncertainty come bearing down. I hate this. Why do I do this to myself?
But the marathon is a different beast. I’ve run races longer and shorter. There is something magical and terrible about marathons. So much training, so much grind, so much sacrifice for one race where everything can go right and everything can go wrong. Pounding out mile after mile at a pace that seems just this side of crazy.
I hate marathons. And I love them. Of course I do.
Everything is crystallized during that last 10K when the pain comes in waves and running is impossible and you’re still doing it. Moving forward in devastation or triumph. Hundreds of days of work coming to one point of focus. All of the unknown, the hopes, the dreams, the fears becoming that one simple, burning point of focus. You run and you run and you pour your blood across the ground and then cross the line and all of the question marks, all the uncertainty leading up to that race are gone. You’ve done it. It’s done. Success or failure. It’s done.
Until it’s not. Until it’s the week after the race and it’s sinking in that there will not be another marathon for at least a year, through agreements both internally and externally made. Through tattered muscles that, though they feel better every day, will not fully be back for months.
It’s too much to launch into again right away. Too much sacrifice to every other part of a life. Some balance must be restored. Shorter races. More sleep. More energy to give back at the end of the day.
And it’s not simple to know how to feel when 2:56:14 would have been an impossible dream just a few years back, a two minute PR over a previous mark that in itself would be treasured for a lifetime. But does it feel the same when a few weeks earlier you knew you could go under 2:55, and were wondering just how high to aim?
It’s not simple with the knowledge that the next marathon will come within spitting distance of 50 years of age. A half century. Maybe even after that. How many more chances will there be to set an all-time mark? How much longer can a person expect to get faster? How much longer will it be possible to cheat time?
And if that 2:54 or 2:53 or 2:52 had come this day, would that have been enough? Enough to say, that’s it, forever, I’ve done it, it’s accomplished?
Of course not.
This all sounds gloomy and unappreciative. But really, it’s never been simple, knowing how to feel in the aftermath. It wasn’t simple the first time and it’s never been simple since. There is always another dream, another goal, another marker that feels that it would be even more meaningful. A thousand more miles of work and it could be real…
But all those thoughts are for later. For now we are shuffling toward the line. The National Anthem.
We take a deep breath, the gun fires, and we’re off.
Long time, no bloop.
I started having trouble with the Loop at the same time as everyone else. It just became frustrating to use, so I just stopped - not even any lurking on posts - but now that we have this new fabulous platform, I guess I'll give things here a shot!
So, where have I been? It's been a crazy year. I've been running and racing a little. Back in May I ran the Maine Coast Marathon in 4:10:xx; I was going for a sub-4, but it was pouring rain and freezing cold, so I was happy with the time I got.
After Maine Coast I decided I wanted to give PR-ing a real shot at the Mount Desert Island Marathon in the fall. I've run the race four times before, so I know the course well and my previous PR happened on that course, despite the massive hills. Training started out really great, hitting pace goals and workouts consistently, and then I ran the Beach to Beacon 10k.
As soon as the race started something felt wonky in my Achilles, but I could still run fast, so I kept going, finishing in 49:30 or something around there. Once I stopped though, my Achilles and calf cramped right up. My calf eventually loosened, but my Achilles stayed tight until I was able to get into the chiropractor a couple of weeks later. I ended up taking a whole week off and running sporadically for the week after. No big deal, I still had some time before MDI.
Fast forward a couple of months and I just never got my mojo back. I struggled through long runs, short runs, and just the idea of running in general felt, meh.
Around mid-September my mojo started to come back, but it feels like that happened a little to late to really go for a PR at MDI. I got a couple of long runs (mid-teens for mileage) in, but only one 20-miler. My fitness is good - I've incorporated strength work into my routine five days a week, so I'm sure that will help.
This bloop is turning into a little more "woe is me" than I wanted. I don't feel that way at all.
The race is this Sunday, and even though I (probably) won't PR, I'm excited to toe the line. This is my FAVORITE race of all time, despite the hills, and typically chilly temperatures, something about it just keeps bringing me back. The volunteers are amazing, the scenery is beautiful, and all of that just makes for a great day, no matter how fast (or slow) you're running.
Here are my goals:
A: Finish... I don't really care about the time that I run, I just want to make it to the finish line.
B: 4:14-4:30 (my PR is 3:54, for perspective).
It's an interesting feeling to go into a race without a specific goal, just to enjoy the day. We're supposed to have gorgeous, albeit a little hot (for Maine in the fall), weather on Sunday and the foliage is right around peak, what could be better than that? I was talking with my mom the other day (my parents are the best and always come to my races, even though I'm married and almost 30 years old) and we said that neither of us could remember me doing this race on a day that wasn't ~50* (sometimes with a bit of rain), so 70*ish and sunny sounds tropical. To be honest, I'd rather have it be 50* and sunny, but as long as it doesn't rain, I'll be happy.
My only two problems now are what I should wear and what fun songs do I add to my playlist? I had been planning on wearing capris and a tank, but now I'm leaning towards shorts despite the chaffing issues that may present (bodyglide for the win!). The problem is the weather could change between now and then, so I'm going to have to pack options.
Maybe I'll actually remember to post a RR after this one! Wish me luck.
I cannot say that I’m always the most eloquent of writers. I cannot say that I’m much of anything a lot of the time, but when it’s just me and the path that lay ahead, I become a runner.
In Minnesota, we usually receive good running weather for about 3 weeks of the year. When those weeks come, you take advantage and lace up the running shoes and enjoy the adventure.
We’re having one of those weeks currently. It’s no surprise as the leaves are starting to change from the deep green of summer to yellows, oranges, reds and even purples before they turn to their dying colors of brown.
I took my time at lunch today on my familiar 1.8-mile lunch loop. It usually is a 1.5-mile jaunt to the little nature preserve that is Wood Lake Nature Reserve. Since it is in Minnesota, you can be guaranteed that there’s a lake within 15 minutes of you in any direction. I take this path because it’s mostly unpaved. It takes you out of the city even though if you look to your right, you are exactly directly in the center.
Today, as I was running I enjoyed some music. I don’t always wear headphones on my runs, but I find that it fuels my running and my sense to keep moving. When times are tough during very long runs, I could switch on the iPod and find a jam, a rhythm or even a lyric that can keep me moving. I don’t have much to report except that I’m edging closer to that 100-mile registration date.
My heart is beating harder just in anticipation of the sign up. My brain is telling me that I’m crazy for even attempting such a fool-hearted goal. My heart is telling me that I’ve trained healthy for three years and now is the time. My brain is telling me that I’m chasing pipe dreams. My stomach is telling me to eat all the food. My heart is strong. My brain is prepared. My stomach is just a gluttonous pig.
So, as I ran today for my 293rd day straight, I smiled. Today was a beautiful day to run much like every day. With the Autumn colors starting, I, too, am reminded that I can change. I will change every day’s goals to ensure that I make these huge goals that I set for myself. I only hope that I can see the beauty of those changes every day that I train.
Run strong and never give up!
I have to confess, I’ve been a lurker for YEARS (probably somewhere around 2012), and enjoyed every minute of reading about the ups and downs of your running adventures. I lack confidence in my writing ability and meeting new people, but I thought with the new format, I would try to come out of the creepy lurking shadows and at least let you all know that I exist. I was quite crushed when I read that RW was removing the loop, and I’m not much of a “Facebooker,” so that wasn’t going to be an option for me even if I introduced myself before the end. I tried to read a few other blogs about running, but nothing was nearly as interesting as the Loop, and, of course, I felt like I knew all of you…even if none of you had any clue I was reading. I just want to THANK YOU all for the great reading and the motivation over the years, and for driving my desire to get back on the training train treadmill these past couple of months.
I found this page by lurking my way over to Dave Shultz’s blog, in an attempt to find any information about PEGLEG’s BQ quest, and it worked! I was hoping and praying for her with every attempt. When I finally found my way over to this forum, and read her race report, tears of joy were streaming down my face! CONGRATULATIONS PEG!!!!! This complete stranger is so happy for you!
Now, since I feel like I know so much about all of you, here’s a little information about me:
I ran a couple of 5 and 10Ks back in my teenage years while playing a lot of soccer, and I decided that without any additional training, I would run a half marathon. Not the smartest thing I’ve done (not the dumbest either). I managed to finish with minimal walking (ahh to be young), and an EXTREMELY painful week of muscle soreness. However, I was hooked and decided that I would run that race every year. I tortured myself similarly by not training for the next few years. Then, towards the end of college, I decided recreational running was fun, and that year, my time dropped dramatically and the week of pain never occurred. At the time, I was utterly amazed at what a little training could do. The following year, I trained a little more seriously and ran several other races. It was a very emotional run when I first clocked a mile under 8 minutes in the middle of an 8K! With two miles left in the race, let’s just say I learned that crying and breathing at the same time is difficult. I completed my first marathon in 2006, and have since completed 13 more, qualifying for Boston at the 2009 Flying Pig. Unfortunately, at the time, I wasn’t interested in running Boston. I now regret that decision.
I fell off the structured training wagon for several years until two months ago because other life is sometimes more important. It feels amazing to be following a training plan again and I hope to set some PRs in the future (and maybe work on getting that BQ again - maybe)! Right now, my A goal is for a 10K under 45 minutes at a race on 11/4/17 <--- I figured putting a goal out there will give me something to blog about in the future.
I know it’s blasphemy to some, but now that it is dark at all the times I’m at home, I am an almost 100% gym treadmill runner. I am completely ok with the brain zone-out for an hour or two. It just makes it hard to guess at where you really stand in terms of outdoor speed during training. Since I have had difficulty finding information on this, I'm going to try to include my training treadmill paces, and resulting outdoor race pace, in an attempt to help others that may be looking for this info.
I’m sure that’s more than you all care to read and thank you to anyone that read this far! I hope to add to this wonderful community, and like some others in the past have said, I am sure it will be nice to have a place I can geek-out about training and running since it’s just not my DH’s thing. He's a good sport about it, but i can tell he isn't really interested in the amount of detail I want to discuss.
P.S. – To all the other lurkers that have made it over here... HI!
Write a race report my hearts not in or navel gaze about race recovery? Door #2? Great.
Was feeling like I'm not bouncing back after a recent marathon and I decided to seek some facts from the marathons I have records of my after training for (not going to track down the paper ones, can't track down the ones I wrote on my mirror in college in dry erase marker, and the internet ate some when different platforms changed their programs and didn't store/migrate info...hmm, sound familiar?).
Total miles in the 7 days after race
Max distance in first 7 days (mi)
So there's the data I found. Answer: I should give myself a break, things are pretty normal. This is close to my low (2013), but that was after another race I found killer. Also, por lo visto, I only followed that zero mile week rule 1x.
OK, I'll talk a little about my marathon. Part of the toughness came from terrain. The other tough part was that I ran many miles alone, some where I couldn't see anyone in front of me (note: not because I was winning). One of the folks cheering commented that I was like the lone ranger. Tell me about it, lady! By about 1/2 way through I was thinking of Modest Mouse (see title) and passing the miles by thinking about who would have enough to think about to fill up 26 lonely miles.
After ~18mi I saw I was going to miss my B goal the thought passed my mind: what are your trying to prove? This had also passed my mind a few weeks before during a hot race I ran with my team. I'll see my note above about giving myself a break. I guess some days I just don't see the point in killing myself. It doesn't mean I won't PR again. Just means it wasn't my day. Anyway, given that I'm feeling a little burnt, I'm gonna try to take a few weeks and regroup then focus on some shorter races with my team to round the year out.
The disadvantage of coming of age in the early ‘70s is that there was no such thing as a professional runner. We were amateurs, every one of us. Now, I know what you’re thinking: But seriously, AB, were you actually good enough to run professionally? And of course, that question is completely beside the point. Back then, Steve Prefontaine was tending bar in Eugene, Oregon, when he wasn’t breaking every American record. And as for me, I was…well, never mind.
But those days are long gone, and consequently, a great injustice is being rectified. That’s right: I’ve turned pro.
It all started with the good people at Brooks, who launched a clever publicity stunt an ambitious talent search a few months back. Brooks offered corporate sponsorship and the cash that comes with it if I allowed them to lure me away from my life of amateurism. And no, of course it wasn’t just a way of getting me onto their e-mail list. The beauty of it is that I’ve been a Brooks loyalist ever since their Ghost shoe was only at #4 and my feet swore they would never slide into anything else. I’ve worn every model number since then, including a Ghost 7 “Kaleidoscope” limited edition that nearly caused seizures at the Boston Marathon starting line.
So no, I’m not a corporate sellout. I’m the real deal, following both my heart and my paycheck to a whole new life.
And speaking of that paycheck, it came with this spiffy contract confirming my status as a duly compensated runner for Team Brooks.
Sure, the teller at the bank smirked a little when he cashed the accompanying check,
but there it was. And it didn’t bounce, either. Now it was up to me to live the life of a pro, and represent the Brooks organization properly.
The Instagram pages of other professionals showed me the way. First, you have to post a lot of food shots to show that you’re eating healthy, non-processed meals and making them in interesting ways. Since I’ve been a few pounds over my optimum weight, I swore off my usual bagels in favor of chia-studded oatmeal to go with my poached eggs, fruit, and black coffee for breakfast.
Pumpkin pancakes? Those will have to wait for special occasions and pre-race carb-loading binges. And speaking of pumpkin pancakes, if I want to make my mark as a pro I really need to publish my own cookbook.
I once stole a spinach-and-watermelon salad recipe from a restaurant in Hood River, Oregon, and I already know I make better roasted brussels sprouts than Shalane Flanagan, so why not?
I’ve also learned that the difference between pros like us and mere amateurs is lots of core and strength training, all of which have to be documented in pictures. So here I am fulfilling my planking obligation.
Planks suck, but those days of taking the easy road are over now.
Of course, being a professional also means periodic training retreats to high elevations.
The irony here is that, now that I’ve turned pro, I can no longer afford Atombuddy’s Deluxe High Altitude Training Center, my go-to destination from years past. It seems the dollar (or in this case, a dollar) doesn’t go as far as it used to. But you also have to post shots of local training locations that are either blissful or badass, depending on your mood. So here’s Gladiator Hill, a merciless climb on the route between the Rose Bowl and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
New gear? It’s all part of the lifestyle. Unfortunately, I still had to pay $119.99 for my shiny new Ghost 10’s at the local running store.
But their awesome midfoot support caresses my high arches in such a loving way that I could really use another pair for proper shoe rotation (hint, hint). I’ve also noticed that the other pros wear colorful socks. So instead of my usual, boring white Balegas, I decided to embrace my inner fashionista and purchase a pair of…gray Balegas.
Balega people, I’m still waiting to hear from you.
With all of that said and done, there was nothing left to do but race. Unfortunately, a lengthy, nagging piriformis inflammation has kept me from doing much of that. But I’ve noticed that my fellow professionals always seem to be injured, or rehabbing an injury, or on the verge of getting an injury, so I guess that puts me in good company. Now I may lack cool pictures of myself on an Eliiptigo or Alter-G, or pool running, or getting a bunch of wicked-looking electrodes stuck onto my lower body parts, because I don’t have access to any of those things. Most of my treatment consists of boring everyday stuff like ice packs and ibuprofen. But I do have the very photogenic resistance-band crabwalk.
This exercise strengthens the glutes, taking pressure off the piriformis. It also never fails to get a laugh from Mrs. AB, which is definitely worth something.
Even at half strength, with mileage remaining stubbornly below 30 per week, the lure of competition has become too strong to resist. This is due, in part, to a pair of colleagues. Since the beginning of the school year I’ve been doing a long-term assignment, subbing for an 8th grade Language Arts teacher on medical leave. Two math teachers at our school—amateurs both—had been training for the Long Beach Half Marathon and frequently asking me for advice. And that’s what we pros do: give our time generously to those who look up to us. Now I know what you’re thinking: If you’re such a professional, AB, what are you doing with a regular job? Well, ever since a realtor, Sarah Vaughn, qualified for the U.S. team at the World Championships, real jobs are all the rage. Besides, it keeps me humble. So once I managed to get my long run back up to 10 miles, I gave in and registered for Long Beach myself, in order to show up those teachers show solidarity with my fellow runners.
The race was last weekend. On Saturday, I headed down to the expo early, because I had to make a personal appearance for you-know-who.
And on Sunday, I had to make a decision: do I strut my stuff with the elites, or lay low and blend in with the amateurs? Well, considering the poor quality of my race fitness, my complete lack of speedwork, and a piriformis that screams, “Mayday!” when I so much as drop down to tempo pace, I chose the latter. In fact, due to a last-minute port-a-potty stop, I got caught in such a bottleneck entering the corral that I had to start in Wave 2. Not that it mattered: given my recent workout paces, I figured a 1:55—that’s over 14 minutes slower than my 2014 PR—was the best I could hope for. And that’s pretty much how it played out. I settled into an 8:45 pace early, and managed to hold it consistently even when it got tough in the last three miles. My final time was 1:54:42, because I pushed it hard at the end to stay below that 1:55.
I waited around in the beer garden afterwards, listening to the band and hoping to spot my teaching friends. But it’s a big race, and it’s easy to miss connections. I later found out that they ran a 2:03 and a 2:10, so I retained bragging rights at Muscatel Middle School. My piriformis hurt near the end of the race, but not enough to stop me. Now I’m sitting on ice a lot, drinking Bloody Marys and debating whether to ask for a cortisone shot. After all, nobody said that being a pro would be easy.
I need accountability.
There are random sticky notes around my house with motivational fitness quotes. Some of them have come down. The rest have become white noise that should come down.
I read an article a few months ago about training with your cycle and adopted the strategy which basically gave me permission to take it easy on the days I feel most like taking things easy. According to the article however, the first week of my cycle is supposed to be the week to amp up the high intensity workouts. If you say so crazy. For two months, I've been trying this method, but staying in bed on days one and two.
Yesterday was filled with crazy food cravings. I did fine at work. Then I came home and was researching those fitbits everyone seems to be wearing when suddenly I just had to have the butterfinger my boyfriend has been keeping on top of my refrigerator. Why he leaves these things at my house is beyond me. And it has been up there for a few months, but the urge to eat something sugary was so strong it was like my brain turned off until I was savoring every bite of that damned candy bar while hating the way my pants fit.
This morning it was tempting to use my go back to bed it’s Day 1 excuse. But the articles I read said this should be a strong day to push myself and if I didn’t run I wouldn’t be able to report a week where I gave 100%
Also: “The only workout you regret is the one you didn’t do.” or something like that.
So I got dressed. Ginny refused to find a satellite this morning. I think she’s throwing a tantrum because I was looking at slimmer watches. I have my sights set on a the Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon next summer. I might consider new technology after that. I’d kinda like something I can wear all the time and I like the heart rate monitor feature on the watch instead of the chest band. I'm also intrigued by the concept of being reminded to move every hour since my job consists of a lot of desk time. I wonder if there are 250 steps between my office and the organ loft.
No signal? Fine. I started the timer. I know the route. Past my friends house. We were going to summit Sehale this summer but cancelled the trip due to the difficulty of getting a permit to stay overnight and the fires which made for poor air quality and visibility. At community choir I invited her to run with me. She’ll consider a Saturday run but 5:anything am is insanity in her book.
Flashlight in hand for the dark part of Regatta this morning. I finished the first mile by the elementary school and told myself the skip the walk break. My goal this week is the run the entire three miles without walk breaks. Mile 2 is all a slow decline. Mile 3 starts on a gradual hill. A girl came out of the one of the apartments and from several yards away I startled her with a cough. She stepped completely off the sidewalk and waited. Strange. I passed, said good morning and saw in the dim dark that she was holding a tree branch over her head. TreeGirl?
I told myself I could take a walk break at the intersection where the hill crests, but that I probably wouldn’t want it. All downhill from there.
Lies all lies. I ran through the traffic signal and kept on running. But it's not all downhill from here. At the corner I have another .2 miles to go and it's a hill. Not as steep as the hill on the back entry, but still, why must I finish on an uphill?
I argued with myself all the way to the corner and then figured that I’d come this far without any walk breaks so why stop now? Sure Ginny wasn’t giving me distances this morning, but I knew from Saturday’s run that the 3 mile mark was the red boat.
Finish strong. Finishing on a hill will prepare me to give a good final push on race day.
I stopped at the boat. 36:27
Thursday I’ll run all the way to the corner.
Thanks for the accountability guys.
So I was lying in bed the night before the race. As one does, I mentally went over the course - all the turns and hills and how I should feel at different parts of the course. Strategy and splits. Often this leads to nerves and many minutes of restlessness and anxiety. But this time, I wasn't feeling any pressure. This would be the 17th time I've done this race. The 103rd 10K of my career. I knew what to expect. I had goals, but they didn't seem to matter that much. I quickly drifted off to sleep.
My low-key summer of running went well. The last month of increased miles went well. I was still injury-free and feeling good! My goal was to beat last year's time of 44:28. even though I didn't figure to be in as good condition. Then I thought I would really like to go under 44, or get close to 7 minute pace (43:24) if possible. My old man PR of 42:58 (on an easier course) seemed out of reach. So I planned to go out about 7:15 and hopefully pick it up and see how it went. But again, no pressure. I really just wanted to enjoy the race, not suffer too much, finish strong and do my best. Oh, yes, I also hoped to place top ten in my AG and get a medal. At 55, I was the youngster in my AG, and figured I had a shot, although this race attracts all the fast folk and it's very competitive. I have yet to medal here, although I got 11th four years ago and 15th the last two years.
So it's a beautiful morning. A little warm, as it would get to 85 later, but at 7:30 it was still cool enough and lots of shade. This was the 40th anniversary race and had a record crowd of 3,600 people (including 50 who have run all 40 races). Our running club was out in force, as this was our hometown race; Probably 50 of us in our matching shirts. Said hi to many of them as we warmed up. There were one guy and gal specifically that I train with that are very close to my speed. So another goal was to beat them. Got in my usual spot about ten rows back, and off we went.
The course has a bunch of turns at the start and lots of rolling hills. Then at mile 5 is a killer hill before you get to come down to the beach for the last mile along the coast.
Plus you get to finish here.
The start was smooth. Not too crowded. I found a comfortable pace around 7:25 the first quarter mile, then gradually got into race pace. Mile 1 came through in 7:07, which seemed about right, and easier than 7:07 should feel. I told myself to hold back, stay in control. The key on this course is to save something for mile 5. A too fast start makes those little rolling hills very painful. So I was practicing restraint and just going with the flow.
Not that it was easy. It was still work. But in a race, 7:07 in mile 2 feels a lot easier than say running 7:07 in a tempo run. I controlled my breathing up the hills. Opened up my strides on the downhills. Restraint was my mantra. Controlled speed. Long way to go. Mile two was another 7:07 and I was passing all the fast starters, including several from my club that had no business being ahead of me anyway.
Mile three is a long straight stretch with a few ups and downs. Most years I am suffering pretty bad at this point. I remembered last year thinking "Why do I do this to myself?" at this point. But this year I was not suffering. I was feeling pretty confident! Oh, there was pain, but I felt under control. Mile three was another 7:07! Well! (I thought) It looks like you are going to beat your goals! Some quick math told me if I could just get over the hill without collapsing, I could do my usual fast finish and be under 44!
Once I cleared the little hill at 3.2 and still felt good and did that math, that boosted my confidence even more. Mile 4 is a big downhill and I could see I was sub-7. Still I tried to restrain myself. My breathing was getting heavier and I was coming up on the big hill, so I tried to dial it back a little. But I also passed my coach (and rival) here and that gave me a boost. Mile 4 was 6:53 and I still had some juice in my legs.
Good thing, because that hill goes up about 90 feet in 0.3 miles. I obediently shortened my stride, put my head down, and tried to maintain momentum without straining too much. By the top I was gasping, but the lactic acid build-up wasn't too bad, really, and I shook out my arms and worked on regaining oxygen while I cruised down the backside. Mile 5 was 7:05, which I think is the best I've ever done that mile. (Yes, I checked. Usually I am over 7:30 in mile 5.)
So I hit the long beach straightaway with 1.2 miles to go, and for once I wasn't already completely toast. I slipped into a faster gear and steadily picked off stragglers. Then I saw my friend and rival, Cathy, up ahead. She had beat me by ONE second in our last race on July 4th. She was about 20 yards ahead and I was gaining, so I knew I could get her. That helped me push on through the suffering which had finally come on board. Now I was heavy breathing and working and the legs were starting to get heavy and falter. But you know, not as bad as other times. I knew I had a good time and a shot at a medal so I tried to pick up every second I could. Mile 6 came through in 6:41, and I was accelerating. I blew by Cathy right about mile 6 and beat her by TWO seconds. The last stretch I was at 6:06 pace and I finished at 43:31. Just a hair over 7:00 pace. Almost a minute faster than last year, and only 17 seconds off my old man course PR of four years ago. My age-grade was 72%, which must be one of my top scores.
So I was very happy! Not only for the time, but because I ran the perfect race. Moderate start, fast finish, limited amount of suffering.
Now I just had to wait and see how I placed. I found my other rival. He had beat me by 11 seconds. Good for him. Finally results were posted...and I got 11th. Whomp whomp...My rival was 10th and got the last medal. Five of the ten were from my club. One just turned 55 this week! I was 171st overall (of 3600). So I was disappointed, but not too much. Because what's one more medal - I've got a wall full of them. But the feelings of running a perfect race and nailing a good time - well that's better than a medal anyway.
Here are my rivals, Cathy, who I beat by two seconds, and Bartlett, who got me by 11 seconds. Until next time!
So I'm optimistic and excited to keep on increasing my mileage. Next race is only 5 weeks away - a half in Ft. Lauderdale during my annual golf buddy road trip. Already thinking of 1:37? 1:36?
Life is good.
I've been severely lacking in miles in September as I dealt with the stress of the house purchase and then having to pack up my life and move to my parents until I actually close on the house or the deal goes dead and I have to find a new rental. No idea why I always give running the short end of the stick when I'm stressed because it's probably what I need most. I plan to get back to it tonight after my work day wraps up. I'm at our State capitol office this week and next week for special meetings but I stay at the same hotel I always do and have a great running path behind the hotel. I've been averaging about 6-8 miles or less per week for 6-8 weeks and my body is looking like I'm sitting on the couch eating buckets of ice cream.
Was awake from 2-4 am this morning and finally gave up and read some of my library book. I woke feeling like I was suffocating. It's only a hit and miss on that feeling now. It's been a month or more since I felt like that in the middle of the night. Flash backs to my near drowning in July. I'm surprised at how many people think nearly drowning because you're trapped under an overturned canoe in deep water with strong river current is funny and that after 3 months it's o.k. to joke with me about it. Too soon for that. Waking up feeling like you can't breathe in the dark means my brain just doesn't find it funny. The conservation officers in my state office want me to talk to kids in their boating safety classes about the importance of wearing life jackets while kayaking and canoeing because of my experience. We lose a lot of people in drowning incidences in Michigan each summer because people aren't required to wear life jackets in kayaks, canoes and float tubes. It must be with you but you don't have to wear it. Had I not had mine on, I wouldn't be typing this. Please put your life jacket on. I'm an experienced canoe and kayak paddler and this still happened. 2 years ago an expert canoeist drown on the river I nearly did because of exactly what happened to me. Flip over, canoe flips on top of you, current sucks the canoe down with water and you can't get out from under it. It's just you in the dark water frantically trying to get out from under it. **shudder**
Thanks for letting me "talk" about it here - it helps. I'm glad fall is on the way for some wonderful miles to get my conditioning up to par before x-c ski season! Soon, I'll be saying this and I'm ready.. it's been way too humid! Plus, I'm nearly as padded as the person in that picture..
It’s been exactly one year since I went from Loop lurker to contributing Loopster!
I think of my running life in 2 parts: before baby and after. As a quick recap, I spent my 20’s running a few 5K’s each year with a 10K sprinkled here or there. I didn’t run in high school or college (at least not deliberately) but got in the habit with a group of ladies in grad school when we all needed the stress relief and break from the grueling program. Every time I ran with the girls or in a race, I just ran. This was before GPS watches and before I had heard the words fartlek or tempo. Just run. Most of my 5Ks fell in the 27 min range so certainly not speedy…I viewed myself as “slow, but determined”. My PR came in the New Haven Road Race, which is well known as the 20K USA Championships. I ran the 5K a few years in a row and dipped into the 26’s just once. That was what I viewed as the peak of my running for years!
Fast forward almost 10 years and I started my return to running after baby. DS turned 2 before I felt like I could balance working full-time, family time and adequate sleep with getting back in shape. My first 5K after baby was a slow 31:59. Yikes! Since then, I’ve focused on running consistently, first 3 days a week, then 4 and now 5, as well as following training plans that my friend/coworker/coach writes up for me. In April last year, I ran 25:5X and was thrilled. I beat 20-something year old me! This seems like too much back story…I know, this is supposed to be a race report! but bear with me because it puts today’s race in perspective.
I started training for my first marathon in August. Race is in January and since it’s my first, I have no time goal. My bigger goal is to finally run a sub2 Half in the build up, at hopefully a race in November. My Coach wanted me to run a 5K end of Sept/early Oct just to see how training is going and it was shockingly hard to find one that fit the bill. I live in San Diego which has an active running community and almost perfect running weather year round so there’s no lack of races. However, most of the races were either charity runs without timing or races done on the beach. Umm, no thanks. So I stumbled across the Grape Day 5K in Escondido, CA. It's allso the first 5K that I’ve done in a long time that costs < $50 (just $45 plus processing fees, grrrrr!). It’s a smaller race, with just under 1000 people and is about 30 min away.
DH decided he wanted to run and would push DS in the stroller. At 4.5 years old now, this isn’t the easiest task but is still doable. We arrived an hour before the start so DH would have time to do same-day registration which would turn out to be fortunate for us, as we almost always register ahead of time. We easily parked a block from the start line. Shout out to races that begin next to a mall or movie theater and therefore have plenty of parking! DH gets the stroller out of the trunk and we see this:
Oh crap. That won’t work. I did a 5 mile stroller run with DS the previous weekend and must have run over something. We had no Plan B. We’ve had DS run a mile race before but a 5K? Just not possible for his little legs yet. DH was pretty bummed and honestly pretty crabby about this most of the morning but what can you do?
I ran the prescribed 15 min warm up and then lined up at the start. As a local family-friendly race, there were a million kids and strollers and after a disastrous Turkey Trot last year, I’ve learned that I need to start closer to the front in these types of races. I was maybe 4 rows from the line, behind the local high school football team which I anticipated (correctly) would be easily passed around the half mile mark. Coach wanted me to run the race blind, wearing my watch but not seeing pace. Riiiight, I’ll try. My goal was just to run hard. I had a successful 5 x 1K workout 10 days prior to the race at right around PR pace so it seemed reasonable that I could beat it. Even though Santa Ana winds are blowing through the area, the morning was cool but I knew it would be 95 degrees in the blink of an eye.
First mile is flat and mostly straight. I started in perfect position so didn’t have to do too much weaving aside from the first minute or so. Buildings along the main street provided welcome shade and the temperature surprisingly wouldn’t be an issue throughout the race. I don’t look at my watch at all during the first mile and feel like I’m pushing it hard. At the one mile watch beep, I look down out of habit and see 8:22. Eek, felt a bit faster than that. The only elevation on the course comes in Mile 2 and I only knew this because I Strava-stalked some people that ran it in previous years about a week ago. I wish more race organizers would include elevation but it seems even a course map is sometimes too much to ask for. The hilly section is a half mile long but some very steep parts.
Not too crazy but enough that my pace slows considerably. When I see 8:56 for mile 2, I know a PR isn’t possible. This is probably why Coach didn’t want me to look at my watch at all…but I compromised and only saw the mile splits whereas usually I’d be looking much more often. After seeing how slow the second mile was, I wavered between slowing down because 5K pace is pain, and still trying to push through to run my hardest. Coach wasn’t expecting a PR, and it’s not what we are training for, she really just wants to gauge where I’m at.
So I tried to hang on the best I could, appreciating flat Mile 3 and running it in 8:10 with the last 0.12 in 7:24 for 26:21. I crossed the finish line and once I found DH and DS, I started whining about how I’m just not built to be fast. You know the spiel: “I’m running so consistently and doing all the workouts and fighting just to get 26:XX. Why is everyone else so fast? Some people hardly run at all and just jump into a race and Bam! It’s not fair! Maybe I finally need to lose these last 10 pounds! Or start running 50 mpw! Blah Blah Blah”. DH, still slightly annoyed that he just watched everyone run and couldn’t due to the stroller flat tire, just simply told me it was still a good time. What else could he do?
I grumbled a bit more and then ran another 15-20 min for a cool down. As I thought about the race and put things into perspective, I realized that I honestly haven’t run around this pace for a race very many times. Sure, I ran 30 seconds faster on a completely flat course in April, but this isn’t too far off. I’m running consistently, and importantly, WITHOUT INJURY! My paces in training are getting faster and I feel stronger. I just seem to have a bit of issue with coming through on race days.
The morning wasn’t all moping, DS got to meet the Grapes which made him ridiculously excited. It didn’t hit 95 degrees until an hour or so later which convinced us to spend the afternoon at the beach.
Texting with Coach afterwards provided more perspective. She basically said: “Sorry it wasn’t the race you wanted but it’s still a hard speed workout that will help you. Enjoy your long run tomorrow!” Haha
Chicago is my home town....I was born in that city and I go back at least once a year. Chicago has been one of my bucket list marathons for some time now; however, it turns out it is just not meant to be for me. At least not for me this year.
This all started about the first week of August when I was innocently changing weights on a barbell to do a little Les Mills Body Pump. I was bent over moving a weight bench and stayed in that position to put on the 10 lbs weights on each side of the bar. I went to stand up and nope...couldn't do it. I just couldn't stand up. I have never felt that way before....I ended up having to go to the emergency room, getting a shot and had to say off my feet for two weeks. Okay, two weeks suck, but all it does was take me out of the running to trying to get a PR at Chicago. Two weeks later I was back on the road.
I was running for about two weeks and then Hurricane Harvey hit Southern Texas. For those of you that don't know, I am a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force, stationed in Fort Worth, TX. As the Command Chief of the 136 Airlift Wing, we are Air National Guardsmen that are responsible to help take care of Texans when the Governor needs us. I spent 21 straight days working 14-16 hour days helping coordinate rescue and relief efforts. While this was happening I was getting up at 0400 to ensure I at least got in 5-7 miles before I went into work. It was tired, but I wanted to at least have miles on my legs to run Chicago.
I actually had a 1/2 marathon in Dayton, OH (Air Force Marathon/ Half Marathon) on September 16 as part of a team event. I was a last minute add on because one of the team had to drop. I ran a respectable 1:42 and we did well as a team. I flew home on the 17th, went to church with the family, watched a little football and then decided to go for a bike ride....HUGE MISTAKE.
I have decided to start training for triathlons, something different to do as I enter into my 50s. I borrowed a road bike, shoes, helmet, the whole package. This is the first time I even was on a bike that had clip in pedals. For those of you who have been on these you probably know what happened next. I didn't even get one evolution around on the bike, lost my balance and fell to my left. I couldn't get out of the clips in time. I tried to brace my fall by putting my arms out...Doing so lead to a large amount of pain. Pain like I have never felt before in my life. Long story long....I ended up going to the emergency room (second time in about 6 weeks) and was told I had a compressed radial head that actually led to a brake. I broke my elbow on my right arm. I also sprained my left wrist.
I went for a follow up appointment two days later and I did ask my doctor if I could still run the Chicago Marathon. This is what he stated "I would like you to consider taking up smoking"!!!! Huh?...What? Why would you suggest that, I asked. His response was priceless...Because taking up smoking is just about as stupid as running a marathon in your condition. Point taken (even though I think I could still have ran).
I was lucky enough to be able to defer my entry to 2018 (The cut off was the 19th) and am looking forward to running in my home town next year.
The good news is that I did not need surgery and I am still able to spin a little on an indoor bike. I also get to do some brisk walking and lower body exercises.
So for those of you who do give me "Kudos" on Starva, you see that I am not running much. It is not because I do not want to run, but rather just can't do it. I don't want to jeopardize anything getting in the way of me running Boston next April!
This is a copy and paste from my personal blog page, but I wanted to start somewhere!
I ran a bright, shiny new half marathon PR of 1:20:50 under circumstances that were not nearly as ideal as those I had for my previous PR of 1:21:26. I walked away from this race feeling like I'd nailed one of my best workouts ever, but not exactly like I'd raced or PRed (you'll have to read The Long for an explanation of why). However, the more I analyze this race the happier I become with it. I placed 5th overall, netted some cash, and best of all enjoyed an amazing weekend trip to Indianapolis with my parents.
Official results can be found here.
Sunny clock shot courtesy of my mama
I looked at a lot of fall halves trying to find the "perfect" goal race before deciding that none were. The major things I was looking for were: A) fitting into my schedule ( marathon training and non-running), B) likelihood of good weather, C) straight course/minimal turns, D) flat course, E) competitive field, and F) within driving distance. The Indianapolis Women's Half fit the bill on 5 of the 6, only missing requirement C), but the more courses I looked at the more I realized how hard it is to find one as nice as the White River half (which, alas, does not meet requirement A) this year since it is only 2 weeks before my goal marathon).
So I landed on Indy, and was accepted as an elite entrant and honored as one of the "5 Women to Watch" in the race. The race organizers were amazing and I was fortunate to be a part of this event. The race was on a Saturday, so I made the trip to Indy on Friday with my parents. Since I won't pull Albani out of school for a race, she and Jon weren't able to come. I treasure my time with my parents so greatly, which also meant that even if I bombed the race, it would be worth going to! I never got nervous for this race, and I think that was big part of why.
From the event program
More expo fun
I was quite excited for this checkpoint in my marathon training cycle. After 10 consecutive weeks of mileage in the 60s plus 2 weeks with mileage in the 70s, I had a 50 mile week the week of this race. While I may not have been completely rested since I ran 20 miles one week before the event, I was the most rested I'd been in months, and I also had the opportunity to race in NOT 70-80* with 100% humidity for the first time in months! I felt like a new woman!
Feeling like a new woman in the hotel room pre-race
Based on the "5 Women to Watch" and a handful of other elite entrants, I expected to have several woman right around my pace. I lined up on the starting line feeling very relaxed and ready to give it a go. I kept reminding myself to trust my training and to trust God, and to go get what I'd trained for! Nothing is ever guaranteed in these long races, but fretting about it never helps. I planned to aim to keep my pace at 6:05-6:10.
I'm looking weird on the starting line as per usual
At the gun, a lead pack eased out, and a check of my Garmin around a quarter of a mile in showed 6:05 pace as I settled in right behind the leaders. For a brief moment, I thought, "Perfect! Maybe this will be the 6:05 pace pack! Couldn't be better!" After that brief moment, I could feel 5 of the girls accelerating (the 2 others who were not accelerating were 2 I expected to drop off before the mile at 6:05 pace). I couldn't decide; should I risk going through the first mile in 5:55-6:00 for the benefit of running with the pack, or should I stick to my plan? I let them go and stuck to my pace. I knew that if they could maintain sub-6:00 pace, I could not compete with them, and if that was too fast for them, they would come back.
When 6:05 pace was briefly happening
The 5 quickly pulled away from me, and at the mile I gauged them as over 20 seconds ahead of me (I later spoke to one who said they went through in 5:45). I came through the mile in 6:08, right where I wanted to be, but so alone. I felt antsy during mile 2, and really had to hold myself back because I wanted to chase the leaders, and kept questioning my decision about not going with them. However, the gap grew and I settled into complete no man's (no woman's?) land. Somehow I could feel that no one was close behind me. With the turns on the course, I simply couldn't see anyone. I had to start paying attention to the course markings/signs, which the event did a really good job with (including course marshals at all turns), but which just takes extra work.
In regards to the course markings, in many places the cones on the road were set up in a way that did not allow you to run the tangents on turns and curves. When a course is certified, it is measured on the tangents of the road, but I noticed early on that many of the tangents were blocked. I knew I was not running the shortest route, but I didn't want to risk disqualification by going outside of the cones (and in some places the tangent was occupied by an aid station in the road, which I clearly could not go through). I was frustrated about this early on because I knew I was picking up extra distance, and there was nothing I could do about it. We all know I dislike anything out of my control!
Between miles 4-5, I picked up a cyclist escort. I believe there were 10 cyclists, for the prize money positions, but I am not sure why they didn't pick up with the runners until that far into the race. I sure needed my guy earlier! Having him was a great help in regards to navigating the course, but I think the cyclists were probably told not to aid the runners (as they should be), so it wasn't helpful pacing-wise. I was extremely thankful to have him to keep me on course though - no more thinking about markings and signs!
Between about 5.5 and 7.5, the course doubled back on itself, so I could see the runners ahead of and behind me. The leading 4 ladies were still pretty closely bunched when I saw them, significantly ahead of me (about 1:30). There had been 5 women ahead of me when I lost sight of them, but one of them was in the 5K (I hadn't been able to see the 5K turn off, but confirmed the 5K winner from the bib number in the photo above). At the time I thought maybe someone dropped out or stopped in a porta-potty, but regardless I knew I was in 5th at that point, with little chance of moving up. As I turned the other direction, I saw that 6th was farther behind me than I was trailing the leaders, so I also had little chance of being caught. I checked my watch at the 6.55 mile mat, and I was at 40:23, which was about what I wanted (the online results have the 6.55 splits wrong for everyone).
I pressed on, feeling solid at the pace I was at and happy with my splits, and also really channeling those long tempos that I'd done solo. I kept thinking, "This is just like that 8 mile tempo, only 5 miles farther" -- which I am really not sure was the most encouraging mantra I could have invented, haha! I've really been working on pacing by feel, and after the first 2 miles when I used my Garmin to ensure I didn't go out too fast, I only looked at it when it beeped mile splits. I believe all of my tempo runs have really helped me pace consistently. My pace felt like exactly what I could maintain for a half marathon, but at the same time it's intimidating to try something you've never done before so I hoped that the wheels didn't fall off before 13.1! I tried to focus on trusting -- trusting my training and trusting God -- but I kept coming back to, "It's just like those 8 mile tempos, just 5 miles longer." Hah.
Around mile 9.5, for the first time since about mile 1 I could see someone ahead of me! I realized that one lady had fallen off the lead group and even though she was still uber-far ahead of me, I was gaining. I told myself to give it my all to finish strong and to pull her in. I looked at my total time when I passed the mile 10 marker, and when I saw 1:01:35 (a huge unofficial 10 mile PR), I knew that it wasn't my day to break 1:20 because I knew I couldn't close with an 18:24 5K, but I also felt confident that I would PR.
I worked on pulling in #4 throughout the final 5K. Mile 11 felt great, and then the final 2 miles were into the wind. I truly believe that I maintained a 6:00-6:05 effort on those 2 miles, but when you're running into a 14 mph wind, that does not translate into 6:00-6:05 splits. Although this was a tough time to encounter the wind, I am thankful that much of the course had fantastic wind block, because the main other time I felt it was at the beginning of the race (which makes sense, since we started and finished in the same area). Also, for what it's worth, Strava gave me a grade adjusted pace of 6:02 for mile 13.
I was happy to see the mile 12 sign, and I knew I could gut out one more mile, but I was sure ready to finish! As we turned onto the final stretch, the finish seemed so reachable yet so far. I gained a lot of ground on #4, but not enough (she went on to finish in 1:20:40), and it was apparent I wasn't going to catch her by the long final stretch. It was a mental battle between easing off since I couldn't pass her, and going with all I had left to get the best PR I could. My kick was a far cry from my best (5:59 pace), but it was what I could do mentally and physically at that point, and that final half mile or so was the most prominent incline of the race (still very minor, but I could feel it!). I crossed in 5th in a new PR of 1:20:50. My dad's video of the finish is here, and the announcer even pronounced my last name correctly!
I guess I called it quite well when I noted here that I felt ready for a half PR but not ready for a 1:19! Although I'm very thankful for this race, I could also identify key factors that, if different, would have led to a faster time: A) less wind, B) people to run with, and C) being allowed to run the tangents. My Garmin read 13.19 at the end of this race, and in my last 3 half marathons it has read 13.10, 13.09, and 13.08, and it almost always reads slightly under on certified courses (it read 26.10 in my last marathon and 6.15 in a recent 10K). Whenever someone says their Garmin was right and the certified course was wrong, I am the first to say that, nope, your Garmin is wrong and the course is right; but we were not allowed to run the shortest route on the road, which is how courses are certified, and I think that cost me about 30 seconds. The course was right, we just didn't run the shortest route that it was measured on. My pace on my Garmin was 6:07.X (must have been 6:07.9+ because Garmin Connect rounded up to 6:08), and per the course was 6:09.96 (no, I am not rounding up to 6:10, bahaha!), so not a huge difference, but when you're chipping away at your PR, every second counts! A 1:19:59 takes 6:06.07 pace. Fun fact: my last 8 mile tempo was 6:07 pace, so this pretty much was just like that 8 mile tempo, just 5 more miles!
One of these distances is not like the others...
However, I've decided to let these factors boost my confidence that I can run faster. When I ran a 1:21 in Arizona, I wasn't sure if it was something I could top because everything aligned so nicely for that one; I am very pleased to beat that time when things did not align as well. The lower you work down your PRs, the more you really need that White Unicorn of race day conditions to improve them. I got a bit spoiled because I actually had those conditions for not one, but for three winter/spring races (Arizona Rock 'n' Roll half, BMO Mesa-Phoenix full, and the Wash U Distance Carnival 10,000 m). Maybe I can find them again at CIM, God-willing! When I told my coach about the race, he said, "You need to see what you can do on a straight course", and I look forward to doing just that.
I've also been thinking, we often discuss trusting God when things go wrong, but it's just as important when things go right! Throughout the race, I kept reminding myself to trust Him, and to relax and just remember that whatever He had in store for me that day was far better than anything I could have planned myself. Luckily, things went right in the form of a new PR, but regardless I trust Him and I trust the process.
"God is within her; she will not fail." - Psalms 46:5
My sweet dad
My sweet mom
One of these things does not belong (that would be ME!), w/ podcast affiliated runners & the race director
I got to post-race brunch with my dear friend Briony who was in Indy from Kansas!
The trip home
Now it's back to marathon training! Less than 9 weeks until CIM!
This week marks the first week months? years? That I have put in 6 days of exercise.
Monday: Elliptical 30 minutes
Tuesday: Elliptical 30 minutes AND a full day without any candy or the Brownies that people bring into work. HUGE!!!
Wednesday: Upper Body Weights
Thursday: 3 mile run 38:53 (Another awesome food day!!!)
Friday: 30 minutes Elliptical, Lower Body Weights New Leg Press PR: 210lb
Saturday: 3 mile run
A late night last night of pizza and movies at the BF’s=a late start this morning. Mookie came in for a rare morning snuggle and chatted with me while she played with the kittens who like attacking the blankets.
Marco and Jacque. Polo lives with the BF. Jacque goes to his new home this week.
At 8:30, I got up. “I need to go for a run.”
While I ate some cereal and folded just enough of the laundry to decide the leggings I wanted were not in that load, she played with the lego’s I “borrowed” from Bobby a week ago to build a castle with my BF.
I found the leggings I wanted near the top of the laundry hamper. They have pockets big enough to hold my phone so I could snap a few pictures for y’all. Breakfast in my belly, morning out of the way, I announced I would be back in about 45 minutes and headed out the door with Ginny. My head radio singing “I got a smartphone in my pocket and my left hand is sportin a 305”
Bobby is 13 and all three of them are able to put meals together but I feel guilty leaving them on a Saturday morning. I used to plan my long runs for the weekend’s they were at their Dad’s… It’s been a little over a month since he stopped having them for the weekend. I agree with his reasoning, but not the decisions he has made to put him in this position. So, I have the kids 100% of the time and it’s good but if I wait for a child-free weekend to go on a Saturday run, it won’t be happening any time soon.
When I returned I was pleasantly surprised by several awesome things 13 yo Bobby did in my absence: Bed made, showered and dressed, and then without being asked, he unloaded the dishwasher when he retrieved a cereal bowl from the machine of clean dishes
If you had been a fly on the wall over the past few months, you would understand my astonishment. Hoping the praise and thanks will do something to turn this into a new trend.
Same 3 mile route as Thursday but in reverse. Average Pace, 12:14 including walk breaks.
Mile 1: 12:08
Mile 2: 12:21
Mile 3: 12:14
Thursday’s Average Pace was 12:57
Running that 3 mile route in reverse is faster. Running in daylight hours I get to see this:
Top of Regatta aka “Resurrection Repeat Hill” in days of yore.
No big hills today. I turned at the cross walk sign.
Jingle Trail Run and Walk 5k at Camp Casey December 2. Filled out the registration form and wrote the check yesterday. Now where are my stamps?
Sometimes I stand in awe of the crap I've dealt with in life when others seemingly float through on the arches of rainbows with unicorns that poop gold nuggets. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Well, I'm Superwoman by now.
My house purchase has hit another delay and I'll be lodged at ma & pa's in the basement till the end of October it seems. I have no words for the asinine process of dealing with mortgage companies and the documentation needed to prove you aren't in possession of a car you turned in on a lease 2 months ago. Prove you don't own something? That's harder than you might assume to do in regards to mortgage rules and documentation. Seems that the disposition papers and documents from GM financial just don't meet the needs of my mortgage company.
I made the mistake of counting up how many times I've moved in 25 years. ELEVEN. I should have just joined the military but that's another story. My dad made a snide comment this morning about how he "knows" what it's like to box up your stuff and live temporarily somewhere. I had to walk out of the room. I don't want to get knocked down for back talk at age 46 and I'm sure it would have happened. He's lived in 3 houses in his whole life. His parents, the first house he and my mom had for 25 years and now the house he built 21 years ago. All 3 of those houses have been on the same 2 miles of road.
My only hope is other people deal with a lot of and just cover it up with a smile day in and day out.
I'm going to go for a run tomorrow. Hopefully for an hour but to do this I have to drive out to the paved road from my parents house because it's hunting season and I'd rather not get shot for disturbing hunters. I'm at the library this morning studying and getting quizzes done ahead for a college class I'm taking and then going to make tomatillo salsa this afternoon once I'm done visiting my 93 year old grandma who still lives on her own out in the country. I might complain about the crap life throws at me but that woman is the queen of having a crappy life. Her husband, grandpa, died 21 years ago and there hasn't been a man in her life since. Not even a date. She put up with so much from him for 40 years that the thought of one more man giving her crap even once was more than she could stomach. I get her line of thinking. She and I are kindred souls.
Back in the days when I coached cross country one of the first things I addressed, at the start of the first practice, was weather and the cancellation policy. Basically the policy went like this: If the weather is bad enough to cancel a meet, then practice is cancelled. I left the parents an out (we're talking about fourth through eighth graders), but in five years of coaching I never cancelled a practice, and I only remember ending one early once.
The point: I was going to be there for whoever wanted to practice. In secret I always hoped for one bad weather day early in the season, just to see who showed up. Those were gonna be the ones I could count on when needed, the ones who would do whatever they had to to succeed.
This week I got the chance to apply the same reasoning to myself. I'm finally making a comeback after a couple years of injury, indifference, and other life stuff, and so far things have gone well. I'm in week ten of a fifteen week half marathon training cycle and have been hitting mileages and speeds I haven't seen in a while. Then came Wednesday: speed work, which as many of you know is my favorite something I wish I could live without. I also knew the weather forecast called for showers later in the morning, but if I went out now I should be able to get the workout in. Sounded like a good plan.
Someone didn't check the radar.
I ran a ten minute warmup, then launched into the first of the speed segments, 5 minutes at 5k pace. About a minute in I felt the first drops. By three minutes in it was raining pretty heavily, enough so that the rain drops that were getting in my mouth were causing me to cough. I finished the first segment and just about called the workout when I had several thoughts at once:
The nearest possible shelter was about half a mile away, the dugouts at the softball fields in the park where I was running
I'm already soaked
WHAT WOULD THE CROSS COUNTRY KIDS SAY??!
So I finished the workout. I even hit the proper times for the speed segments.
Thursday I had a couple short slow runs on the schedule for recovery, managed to get rained on during both of them.
Today, fourteen miles...in the rain.
Tomorrow is a day off to drive to Georgia for a college visit where my son wants to go to school.
I'd like to get a run in Sunday to take a look at the campus. The forecast says....
The Overlook 50K was created by Ann Trason and is run mostly on the Western States course. Most of you know that I hired Ann as my coach a few years ago when I trained and ran my first Western States race. Despite the painful DNF (did not finish) there, I had a wonderful journey, highlighted by Ann Trason's inspirational tutelage.
I came into this race pathetically under-trained, with no long trail runs for about 4 months. Still, I was hopeful that I could fake my way to a finish and get a long training run in the process.
Surprisingly, I ran really well for about 27 miles! Then it got hot and hilly. I became mildly dehydrated and my body started to protest with a series of cramping and pain. The last 4 miles were slow and tough. But somehow, I managed to run-walk-crawl to the finish line in 6 hours and 7 minutes. Good for 49th place out of 139 finishers! I had a great time!
Everyone is wearing tutus at this river crossing aid station! The river is both refreshing and a shock to the system!
Laura Matz, in the distance...
The views are breathtaking everywhere you turn!
It's a waterfall!
Gordy Ainsleigh! He is local hero/legend, and everyone around here loves him. He always gets a nice ovation and cheer at the finish!
Other notes: One the mantras I used in my first 27 miles was, "Run like you're in 2nd place." I was thinking about my 2nd place finish at the Mokelumne River 50K when I was better trained and the fast kids were doing a different race. I ran like I was being chased. I ran like I was protecting a lead. And I passed a lot of people after going very easy in the first 10 miles. And I really thought I could keep it up right to the finish.
As you're probably aware, Florida is hot. Most of Florida really doesn't have "seasons." Down south they have "my face is melting" and "oh, it'll take me 20 minutes to get a sunburn" as their seasons. Way up here in the panhandle, just south of the Georgia border we actually have something more akin to seasons. It's not like up north, north, though. Our fall basically just means that there's much less humidity and the temps are only gonna reach 85-88. The mornings, though, are quite awesome. we'll get down in the lower 70's.
We have 3 DK9s. A short, stocky, blind dachshund; a mutt we were told was lab-border collie mix; and a Great Pyrenees. The GP is a 120 lbs. giant, white, hair-shedding, lovable fluff ball. When we adopted her nearly 11 years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into...I mean, the interwebs explained to us that she wasn't going to be an obedient dog, so we knew that much. But, we didn't think about the mountains of hair she would shed in a week or the fact that afternoon walks in the summer just wouldn't be any fun for her. I've tried to be the dog owner that walks there dogs for a good hour every day (except the little dachshund, and hour of walking for her is roughly the equivalent of you or I running a marathon). I learned during the first year of having the GP that walking her after work in the summer was pretty mean. She didn't lay down and collapse in neighbors yards, but her tongue would become roughly as wide as my wife's Kia Soul as she panted her way through the walk. I decided that subjecting her to that was more akin to punishment than it was enjoyable for her. So, the dog-walking was switched to before work. Ever since, I've been getting up at 5 a.m. to walk the big dogs. I think they've enjoyed not being subjected to the summer heat...and I've learned to love that early morning solitude.
For years, the walk was a half mile loop to the west of my house; then, just before the intersection of the street before my street, at a storm drain, we'd turn for a three-quarters of a mile loop to the south. Sometimes, we'd zig-zag up and down a couple of side streets to add a little extra if they were feeling it.
The years have gone by and the girls have gotten older. The GP has developed arthritis; and it's slowed her down quite a bit. I talked to her doctor about walking her, and he still wants her walking as much as she wants to. He said to just let her dictate the walks. The lab mix, though, is still strong and happy. Most of the time now, the GP will continue to head towards home; but, sometimes, she'll stop at the storm drain just before the intersection where we've turned onto the south loop for the last decade. She'll either start pulling that direction or she'll just stop and look, apparently longing for the days gone by when she would walk and sniff her way around that loop, before deciding to continue towards the house. On the days that the GP goes home early, the lab mix and I head back out, after dropping the GP off at the house, for a brisk walk on the south loop.
This week has seen a return to fall for us. It's been warm, but comfortable, in the afternoons and nowhere near as humid as it has been for the last several months. The mornings have been gorgeous, with a refreshing breeze. The skies have been clear and the stars beautiful. The other day, the GP wanted to turn towards the south but I was in too much of a rush to be able to take the extra time. I stopped, petted her head, and promised that, if she felt like it, I would take her to do that loop before the end of the week. I was sad that I didn't have the time to do that extra loop with her.
It was pretty again this morning and I spent most of the loop going to the west looking at the skies, wondering, thoughts wandering, and letting the DK9s walk and sniff 'til their hearts were content. As we made our way back toward the house, we arrived at that storm drain and stopped. She sniffed her usual spot right next to it as I stood and watched. She pulled at the leash, wanting to cross to the south loop and I smiled.
The three of us wandered slowly around that loop, I enjoyed the stars and the breeze and they enjoyed walking, sniffing, and just being dogs. When we approached the street that we normally turn on to do our zig zag, the GP gently pulled that direction. I let her slowly, gently lead the way. The first part up that street is a pretty steep uphill, especially for her now. But, she continued to slowly climb it; content with her pace. As we made our way back up our street, she slowed. It wasn't that pained, lumbering slowing down that she does as she nears the end of what she can do for that day. She was dilly-dallying, hoping to extend the time that we could be outside.
As I left to come to work, I told my wife that she had done the whole walk. She knows when we're talking about her, and she lifted her head to listen. She smiled a tired, but content smile and laid her head back down on the flloor. It was a good morning.
The Marshall University Marathon is my home course. I've run the half multiple times, hosted the very first ever official Loopfest (we called that one Loopsterfest) in my home, and I'm on the marathon planning committee. Last year I couldn't run because I had had my ankle surgery three weeks prior, but I dragged a folding chair and the official Loop cowbell to the side of the 5K and cheered on TO, who had dropped in to run it, then I drove to a spot along the marathon course and cheered on various friends running it. I just knew I would be running Marshall again this year.
That is not to be, because of continuing injury problems, but this year I have one current student and one former student running the half, and one former student running the 5K. So I will be up early with my stadium chair and the official Loop cowbell to cheer them on.
Speaking of proud, Marshall is well known for its programs for autistic students. Parents from all over send their kids here to get intensive help in succeeding at college. A few years back we had an autistic student in the music department. He was a good guy, quite smart, but with many struggles, self-discipline being a big one. His guitar teacher was tireless in working with him and staying in touch with his mentors in the autism program. At one point, the student, I'll call him J, didn't show up for a few days, so the guitar teacher went to his dorm room, where he found wall to wall Doritos - J was just hanging out gorging. But he got back on track, and graduated on schedule. Since then he has moved back near his family in New York, but he has a job and an apartment of his own. In the past couple of years he has started running - the man with self-discipline problems - and last week he PRed at a half - 1:41:xx.
Hello all! It's been a very long time since I posted and since this is all new, thought I'd jump on the band wagon and share my latest race.
I haven't blooped for such a long time because I never felt like I had anything interesting to say. My running in the past year has been pretty mundane (at least compared to a lot of you). I became a "Mimi" last February to twin boys! They are my first grandchildren and they have changed my life and my priorities for sure. Running use to be such an important part of my life - not that it still isn't but it's definitely down on my list. In March I started watching the twins 4 days a week when my daughter went back to work. Needless to say, it is exhausting. It pushed my running to 4:30 - 5:00 a.m. and they are mostly all junk miles. I'm just always tired. I haven't done any speed work or hill work at all this year. Therefore, I haven't really had much desire to race even though I'm on a local team and have to race a few races a year. 😬
Yes this is a race report if you're still reading this 😀 We have a hometown Half Marathon every September and it draws approximately 8 thousand between a Marathon, Half, 10K and 4 mile run. I was very worried about the half because I hadn't run 13 miles since last November when I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half! I'm telling you - little training going on here. My goal was to break 2 hours.
I lined up with the 1:55 pace group and just decided to run my own race and decide how I was feeling as I went. The first few miles seemed so easy - I was in shock. I took a gu at mile 5 and thought just continue the ride until I can't. At mile 9.5 came an uphill and I sure realized right away I had no training in hills. I had to walk up part of it. Also, my stomach was churning and I knew I needed a gu but didn't want to chance it with my stomach. Well, I walked 6 more times between miles 10 and 12 so the gu was needed. I hit the wall for sure. I ran the last mile just praying to get done. I finished in 1:53:21!! Not a PR but much better than I had thought would happen. I was so excited and realize that I still have it in me.
I have a 10K in 3 weeks. That is my hardest racing distance. I never know how to pace myself for it. Guess I'll try to be smart and just hang on like usual the last 2 miles. I'm also running the Fort Worth Half Marathon in November. Hoping to not lose the fitness I have and try to have another decent race. (I also haven't been to the gym for any strength training since the twins were born - definitely shows). My new life - I love it!
So great reading everyone's reports and catching up! You are all so inspiring to me.
Love this new format!! Thanks Dave 😊